Uploaded Waaaay Earlier than it should have been, for your viewing pleasure.
This series starts on this site With "Professor Irae, Mix-N-match."
"Enter Epsilon" Is the second plot-line tale, taking place during the last week of term As seen below.

Professor Irae, Volume two: Enter Epsilon .

Term 1, last week: Three days remain until the national sciences competition.

The bird was a new Holland honey-eater. It hadn't really done anything spectacular apart from escape from its cage earlier.
In fact it was probably at the lower end of the gene-pool on this particular day, the third-last day of the first term for the Anchrentor Academy for Aspiring individuals.

As every mage knows, there are spots in the universe which aren't quite right and funnily enough when they encounter anything organic, latch onto them to make things even less right.

Of course since the earth is moving, it will occasionally intercept one of these little anomalies; but the universe is so gigantically vast and these anomalies so rare that the chance of the average mage encountering a new one in close proximity to him within his lifetime are remarkably, indeed, nearly Impossibly slim.

The new Holland honey-eater decelerated slightly in response to a minute down-draft.

With simply perfect timing, the invisible contortion of space-time that existed on that exact spot in reality intersected with the grey-matter within the birds head.

The creature dipped, losing altitude before slowly flying away, coughing up sparks every few strokes.
We'll come back to him later. Trust me, he's important.

Hanging a left from the New Holland Honeyeater, let's segue to a person named Ibis.

Ibis Iskanda ran. This in itself was not unusual; however she was running alone and she was also running on top of the campus's roofs.

Normally, this would be difficult as like most rooftops they were cluttered, slanted and often widely spaced apart; but despite the inconsiderateness of the architects she made good time.

Ducking and vaulting, leaping and bounding, she rapidly approached the train-line that drove through the heart of the district. Leaping out into empty space above the train tracks, she smiled as right on schedule the nine-fifteen sped beneath her.

Lightly she landed on the train and leaning over the side, opened a window before grabbing the frame and hoisting herself inside.

"One circuit in two minutes and twenty six and a half seconds... Amazing, Ibis!" Ibis grinned at her friend Anya who was holding the stopwatch. While Ibis was tall, tan and somewhat sinewy, Anya was about a dozen centimetres over one and a half meters in height and freckled easily; her red hair a contrast to Ibis's nut brown.

"You're improving faster than Bethany, Anya and even Maya, Ibis." Came a cultured voice from near the floor. Both Girls' heads turned to look at the source like speeding shuttlecocks.

Irae delicately played another card in the game between him, Maya and Bethany.

"I must admit, I was impressed by the Idea of using the train maintenance cart as a teaching space. Well done."
Irae was in his customary solid sable suit with its silvery trim. He didn't look up from the game even when he spoke.

Ibis grinned. "However." The grin disappeared. "You've improved faster not just because of dedication, but because you're following me into making alchemy your main skill.
Secondly, and this applies to all of you; I hope you haven't been forgoing your studies for the national science competition."

All four opened their mouths to speak, but Irae continued to cut them off "And just because it doesn't count towards your year mark doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare for it... You especially Bethany."

Bethany looked perplexed, pushing a lock of her black hair* from her face, she asked "Hang on, why me; I'm doing better than Ibis aren't I?"

*Current Tint status: Purple

Irae looked up. His eyes were green and when he wanted them to, his gaze could spear straight through you and pin your soul to the opposite wall... or at least, it looked like he might.

He looked down again "I sacrifice all my hand and all my land to play the Burden of Leadership. You must now take the combined attack of all the creatures on your side and check whether or not it is greater than your total life points remaining. If it is. You lose. You've both lost."

"Hey. No fair! What kind of card is that anyway?"

Irae collected the deck up and pocketed it. "A very useful one. Now I expect you all to do well in the sciences comp if only because there are cash prizes and I need to live up to my claims regarding the effectiveness of my teaching techniques. Lest I get the boot. Something your great great granddaddy would just love to do to me."

Maya looked up from where she was cleaning up her cards "I thought that you were chummy with the perpetual principle?"

Irae shrugged and said "The count is whimsical, he'd watch me to see what I'd do just as readily as he'd help me out."

"Oh." Maya blinked "He's a count."

Irae looked at her "Did I ever tell you guys?"
"Tell us what." Anya was immediately Alert.

Irae sat on one of the train-seats "Gather round then. This is an important lesson."

He began to sketch diagrams in the air with a single finger, leaving glowing lines.

"The earth doesn't just go round and round, It doesn't just spin either; we orbit the sun, which in turn is moving around in relation to everything else."

He began to place dots over the diagram of the solar system.

"Now, reality has bits which aren't quite right or normal. They are anomalous. Whenever the earth intercepts one of these stationary points, something strange can happen. Wonderful things too; these points aren't exactly common enough for us to hit them all the time though."

Anya looked at the diagram impatiently "Very pretty, but get to the point, what do these points do?"

Irae smiled in a benevolent manner "Very well. The point about these points is although they pass though most solid things like so-" He set his diagram spinning.
"When they intercept matter structured like the way it is in practically every mind of every being on the planet, they stick.
The larger the brain, the more they stick. Meaning humans can take them from other forms of life, usually.... and there's a theory I that one day I will be able to test. What these things do is allow the entity to change and bend the rules of reality to a certain extent and in certain ways. There are two types, active and passive; passive is when you encounter the Sanguievorism anomaly"

"Hang on, Vampirism?" Bethany asked incredulously "It's real?

Irae ignored her and continued " A dark-matter reserve, all-seeing vision or like what I suspect miss Sagitta has, Accuracy. These are generally considered better than the active ones, as although they possesses less power and immediate benefit, they... stack. Unlike the active abilities, these are things like gravity-bending, form's of teleportation, Timeslicing, telepathy, powerful spells that allow you to control things like chain lightning or absorb attacks... one of the rarest actives is the ability of Personarifaction."

Irae drew his hexigun.

"This is my prized possession, because it is a crystallisation of my personality. Something that combines many elements harmoniously, a gift from the dean of the CAS^3 upon the completion of my PhD. Maybe forty nine people in the world can create these and as they are nigh indestructible and always suit you perfectly, they are much sought after.
The families of people who've inherited the Persona anomaly are rich and powerful and so if one ever did come down there would be quite a stir. Well, that's enough talking for today; let's get back to the Dorm."

The girls nodded, each secretly wondering, what their personarifaction would be.

Back at the dorm, Zansen Kamekami was in the lobby "Irae, be more careful, the other's would have opened your mail if I hadn't stopped them."

She handed over a thin envelope with a heavily embossed seal of glossy, crimson wax. Anya leaned over Irae's shoulder while he thanked Zansen before she went out of the lobby, leaving the group alone.

"Anya. Please stop leaning on me, It is most undignified." Irae said, tracing the embossment of the seal with his finger.

"It's from Epsilon!" He looked his age as he carefully blew on the seal, which switched from its glossy red to a solid sky-blue, with the embossment stamped with gold leaf. It was a single E, looking as though it had been taken straight from the first line of an ancient text, it was hellishly ornate, surrounded by a filigree of delicate lines, all stamped in gold on the blue of the true seal.

It was impressive, but Irae saw it as another lesson as well. "Look, this is a letter."

"Even I can see that." Ibis commented. She had chosen to squat next-to Irae, the pose bringing them both to about the same height.

Irae looked her in the eye's "What you might not see, Miss Iskanda, is this!" He pressed the seal with his thumb. The seal burned, light lancing out from every line, so bright it was visible even in the morning air as a shaft of shining gold.

"Epsilon is an artist with basic spells, from an amazing family too. I hope you remember those anomalies I told you about; well his family collects them. I believe they've accrued a great many...."

The letter popped open. The surface of the page was covered with drawings.

"This is new!" Irae commented enthusiastically, as though he was unwrapping a promising present.

One of the drawings left the page and stood upon the surface above his surroundings.

"That's Epsilon, he's looking well isn't he?" Irae commented. The girls observed the little, minutely detailed figure. It appeared to be a boy with milk-white hair, probably younger than Irae, wearing a red hood and cloak, long white cotton shirt and long shorts. He looked odd and utterly adorable.

"Good Morning, evening, midday- Whichever it is when you read this Irae!.... And uh, it's kind a secret, so Shhh, don't tell anyone 'kay?"
Irae looked around at the audience "Uh, student's, would you mind-" "Shhh" the girls shushed him.

Irae gave in and listened, as Epsilon continued "My family Isn't too organised right now... actually.... they aren't... well. I'm really, really sorry."

"Epsilon, your family's been attacked by people after the anomaly collection?" Irae nearly yelled in surprise.

All of the girls gave him looks "How the hell can you tell that? What is he, 'skippy'?"

Irae glared at the others, but Epsilon had started speaking-again and now the rest of the scenery clicked into place. He had recorded the letter in a forest.

"I ran off. It was really fun, I used all the tips that you gave me from that nice fast girl Ibis you teached. Sorry." Irae refrained from correcting Epsilon.

Epsilon waved a little staff around. "I don't have much time here, but, because I have the star-shard with me, I should be with you soon. I had it in my lunchbox for show and tell and... and... they got everything, Just me left." *sniff* He looked down and seemed to perk up after a moment

"But, I'm going to meet you for the very first time! It'll be so exciting! Um, sorry if that's too much trouble. Sorry!"

Irae covered his eyes with one hand "He needs to stop apologising for things that aren't his fault."

The little figure looked round shadows moved in the greenery. "Oopsie , some-ones after me. I'd better go, before they show. I guess it's sleepy-time for me!"

The letter turned grey.

Bethany broke the silence "What the hell was that all about?"

"I suspect that someone wanted the families accrued anomalies for themselves, but by some minor miracle, Epsilon must have broken House rules and taken their main storage outside earlier.

Something I don't think even the burglars would have anticipated." Irae chewed his lip reflectively.

Maya sniffed, sorrowfully. "What's the matter?" "Well, he's just lill' and he'd be all alone there."

Everyone except Irae seemed sad. "Grow up. He's taking it well."

Anya looked at Irae angrily. "Grow up, he looks younger than you are and his entire family has just been taken down by an unknown force! That's like telling someone who's just lost a foot to walk it off!"

Irae backed away as Anya advanced, anger radiating from her tangibly.

Irae swallowed, he could kill her with barely an effort in less than three seconds and a dozen ways. Yet... She still intimidated him beyond comprehension.

"Anya. May I explain? His family will not be harmed, merely frozen. It would be unprofitable to kill the most wealthy self-made families; in the same way you only rob a beehive of its honey, but not its workers or it's queen."

Not the most inspired analogy but it caused her to take pause.

Irae continued on, slightly calmer. "They will have stopped the family at least until they can figure out where the hell the amulet is.
Which if you were wondering, is what they keep all the Anomalies attached to; they were the first and only family to figure out how to shape Amber to store insubstantial things within it. Epsilon has it... well the biggest one. If he can get here, he will be safer. Right now... Well epsilon only looks vulnerable."

At that moment the door opened and a gaggle of girls walked in, having returned from a school sports match held earlier in the day.
The letter disappeared almost like magic as Irae and his cohort stood aside for the people passing through.

"-That bird was so weird though-" Irae caught a snatch of conversation. He immediately snapped taut and alert. "-I know, it like, attacked the mascot! And flew straight at me!" Irae ran after the group and found the person speaking.

"Miss Fumiko!" Irae called, causing Selskia Fumiko who'd made the bird comment, turn, along with the rest of her group.

"I would like to know where you saw that bird." Selskia was perplexed at his urgency "Down at the pitch, It's probably flown off now why-"

"Anything unusual about it?" Selskia looked blank for a moment and then brightened "Yes actually! It looked like it was breathing sparks. Like a little feathered dragon. Of course it was just a trick of the light I'm sure."

Irae gave short half bow "You have my thanks." He said politely, before dashing out the door so fast, his passage caused a strong wind to blow through the front entrance.

"What was that!" Selskia squealed as she smoothed out her now rumpled skirts and combed her hair with her fingers. "He's really, really fast isn't he; you wouldn't think it though..." "He did fight off a gorilla-" "-I'm still having trouble believing that." Selskia ended the groups gossip with a shrug.

"Still not as handsome as that lead batsman." She commented dismissively, eyes glazing over "Ahh Orian Aurum argent, has there ever been a more fitting name for someone who cannot lose, on or off the pitch." She gazed off into her own private universe.

"I'm pretty sure he hasn't fought any gorillas recently though." Someone in the clique pointed out, causing Selskia to round on them. "Will you shut up about that-"

Gossip, like war, never ends.

Irae didn't care about gossip, he cared about an animal acting strangely.

Such symptoms were the magical equivalent of a klaxon blaring overhead; the signal of a new anomaly for the taking.

He was so busy looking up and running against the wind that he only saw Zansen when she was less than a meter away. He managed to slow down a bit but he still tumbled into her.

Irae managed to take the brunt of the fall, however Kamekami was still severely winded when she sat up "You okay Irae?" She asked shaking him a little.

He'd torn a jagged hole in the knee of his pants and had a long, shallow gash above one eye. His palms were grazed, but he didn't wince when he pushed himself up and looked at her seriously. "You okay?" "Yeah, why were you running so fast-"

The new Holland honey-eater swooped at a street-mirror above the pair.

"Holey-ravioli, Kame, you know what that is!"Irae breathed, to shocked to move

"My lord... that bird's got...a...a" Kamekami stuttered and stopped, leaving Irae to finish her sentence. "Personartifaction anomaly attached. I was telling the others less than half an hour ago.... Hang on, since when did you know about them? I thought you just see magic?"

"Parent's. Both of them are Staff-members. They babble about this... Well I used to think it was crap but now-" She stopped abruptly, Irae had stopped listening.

"It's gone! After it! You take the left field, I'll take the right. Call me if you see it!" Irae dashed off before she could even comment.
At that moment Incantatum Bethany, Sagitta Maya, Iskanda Ibis and Cogitum Anya all caught up.

"Where's Irae, and what happened to you." Zansen looked at the four and decided to wing it.

"You four, look for an unusual bird, It has an Personartifaction anomaly attached, Irae's trying to find it and-" "Leave it to us!"
All four ran off before she could even finish her sentence. "You, should call him... when you find it."

Zansen sighed. Everyone here was much too lively for her taste.

Maya was the first to spot the bird, it had perched on a tree in the middle of a crowded intersection.

At rest, it occasionally coughed up sparks of brilliant azure and magenta.

She quickly texted Ibis, Anya and Bethany, telling them to find Irae and get to her location; Lock-heart avenue.

Less than three minutes later, Irae leaped over the roof of the nearest shop and landed on the footpath next-to her; ignoring the fact that the street was full of the general public.

He was holding a domed birdcage, the kind that you'd see in an old cartoon involving a yellow bird named 'tweety'.
"What's that for? Why don't you just catch and take the anomaly?" Maya asked, slightly confused.

"I made a promise, I need to hold out and wait for him to arrive." Irae commented cryptically.
The bird continued to preen itself.

"Miss Sagitta, repeat these words after me and focus on the bird please." Irae said slowly, as if trying not to scare the creature away.
"Æries Ðextra Capax Carpe Aviens!" Irae's speech was elegant but not infused with the strange sensation of power and brass that seemed to

only come when he cast a true spell.
"Aeries Dextra …Capax Carpe Aviens?" Maya spoke and focused on the bird. Quite suddenly she felt both exhilarated and drained as the creature was pulled towards them at breakneck speed.

At the last moment Irae opened up the cage and caught the bird inside. It was a large creature, speckled brown and white on its chest with patches of more vivid red just below the beak.

Irae ignored the odd glances from passersby, took the now full cage and turned down a side alley. "Please call and ask Ibis to go get me my fold- box, immediately. I'll need everything I can muster to hold off the people who will be inevitably drawn to and after this bird."

Maya nodded and dialed Ibis to explain to her what Irae wanted.

After a moment, she put her hand over the receiver "Ibis wants to know why you can't bring it back to the dorm." Irae replied without looking back "Because then when they decide to attack me, the resulting incident is entirely my fault as an irresponsible teacher. Or at least It will be in the after-action report."

"So where are we going?" Anya asked, running up from the other side of the alley.

"Try and find somewhere relatively abandoned. Remote."

Irae took off his full-bodied jacket and laid it on top of the cage, concealing the bird within.

"Perhaps ten or twelve people might know this bird is on campus. All would have had to have been at the game or heard about it from someone who was like I did. The latter's unlikely, so as long as no one actually see's me with it, we might get through this."

"Gotcha…. Irae, your gun is showing." Anya pointed out. Irae shrugged. "I look like a kid, it looks like an awesome toy. Let's go, I want to get as far away from the stadium as possible."

They made good time, with Ibis and Bethany catching up with them after they'd entered a deserted concrete basketball court that was in a sunken depression at the end of a back-alley with unused blocks on all sides.

The place was pretty hot, the noonday sun able to shine directly down into it. However it was pretty sheltered, deserted and out of the way for any-bystanders who might wander by.

Irae took the fold-box and rummaged around inside "No pick-me-ups parfaits now. They dull the senses. I need to stay sharp."

He pulled out an ordinary medicine tin and put a strip of adhesive gaze over the cut on his scalp and then proceeded to wad cotton bandages around his palms.

He then reached back in and drew out a folding table, kicking out the legs and setting it down on the concrete as he took inventory of his arsenal. The girls, who'd been lounging on the concrete nearby, perked up in interest as he began to unpack things from the fold-box.

He flipped open the alcehmy-gun and removed the six-still full, phials within it. In their stead he slid a cylindrical blue reservoir of distilled frost-essence.

He snapped the gun closed, sheathed it and turned.

He saw movement out of the corner of his eye.

"Gamma Guan Glacies! Hex Hasta heilo!"

He began saying it even before he drew his weapon; smoothly pulling it from its holster and aiming the iridescent barrel with one hand at the rooftop where he was sure that someone had stood.

Six spears of ice shot into the sky. Irae frowned and waved a hand, causing them to liquefy.

He moved to reload the half-empty cylinder, flipping open the maginum in one hand while trying to look in all directions at once.

"Sha-Pow!" The words and the blow came almost out of nowhere to knock Irae off his feet into a wall.

Music started up in the background as several large boys still in sports uniforms came running down from the alleyway entrance. The leader flipped backwards and skidded to a halt at the head of the group.

Irae turned his head and spat, tinged with red;
"Students, another lesson. What we have here, is a type of cookery, specifically, a dance fighter."

The leader was still in his sports gear but he had considerably more jewelry than you'd expect from a boy his age.

The boy at the head of the group joggled from foot to foot "You brought this upon yourself when you took that bird! It's mine now, O-rian is the name and you're downfalls my game."

Irae tensed "You were waiting to attack us, until we were alone." Orian grinned " Hell yeah, that's called tatic's man and it's that kinda thinking which makes my fighting, un-beat-able!"

His group chuckled at the pun.

"Irae, why aren't you shooting him?" Irae looked at Ibis, exasperated "Because if you will listen to his backing vocals he is currently untouchable that is to say 'I cannot touch this'. Class, It's true it is quite difficult to beat a master dance-fighter, however, Novices like this fellow here-"

"Ima gonna take you down for that biatch!" Orian interrupted and snapped his finger's, one of his accomplices reached behind his back. Bethany saw and nodded to Irae. Irae threw up a spherical potion and brought up his gun. The accomplice with the speakers changed the track, just as Irae shot the Dark-flash out of the air.

The silence was absolute and deafening, disorientating and blinding everyone who didn't expect it. Orian stopped blinking to find the cold metal of a gun-barrel underneath his chin.

"- Novices, require backing tracks. Go home tappy feet." Irae finished his sentence calmly.

Orian scowled. "Not a chance, Fred, gimmie another one bites the dust. Fred. Fred!" The boy at the back searching for the speakers shrugged.

"They're gone, I didn't feel a thing." He said, visibly confused.

Irae looked over at Bethany who was grinning. "Hit by a smooth criminal perchance? Bethany?" "I really couldn't say Irae."

Orian slapped the gun aside "You can't kill me anyway. You're a teacher."

Irae rubbed his chin reflectively. "No. But I can abuse your un-official magical skills. Like forcing you to hear bad late eighty's pop songs and feel compelled to dance to them…."

Orian looked unsettled "You, you wouldn't, you bastard!" Irae tutted at him.

"Language now, Or I could just ask the girls to come up with a suitable punishment. They abuse me enough that it should be a snap."
Anya pushed herself up and sauntered over, as if giving a professional assessment.

"Irae, I have an idea." She leaned over to Irae and whispered in his ear. Irae's changed from smug, to horrified. His lower lip began to quiver. "Are… are you really, sure that would.. be okay, like, morally?" "They tried to steal from you didn't they?"

Irae looked at the group of boys who were now quite skittish.
He shook his head "… I guess. I'm sorry about this, but, you're going to spend the rest of your lives afraid of getting undressed in front of the opposite sex, unable to consume alcohol that doesn't come in a tiny glass with an umbrella and only able to watch 'chic-flicks', read romance novels and love poetry." Irae sighed and walked over to the fold-box "Well, may as well get it over and done with."

There was a stampede of rushing feet from the alleyway entrance.

Irae grinned "You know Anya, next time actually suggest something." The older girl shrugged "You winged it pretty well. Can you actually do any of that stuff?" Irae chuckled, reloading his gun "Not right now. With enough time and the right ingredients, maybe."

Irae yawned and winced as a stab of pain shot across his chest. The opening attack had cracked a rib, he was sure of it.
Ah, well it's not as if anyone else knew about this bird Irae thought as he sat down on the warm concrete.

"Epsilon should arrive here in three days or so if he's travelling on foot. If we can keep this bird until he gets here, we'll have an opportunity to try something interesting." He crossed his hands on his stomach and appeared to be taking a nap.

Maya reluctantly, coughed and raised her hand. "Irae, that's all well and good, but aren't you forgetting the whole cross-level test that's coming up."

Irae opened one eye. "Oh, all of you have been well taught, you'll be fine. No-one else is studying for it-" Irae was cut off when Anya hauled him up by his lapels.

"It's not fine boyo. You better come up with a better plan than to just sit here." Anya stared into Iraes eyes "You're supposed to be the responsible one dammit, so get your brain into gear!"

Bethany who'd been fiddling with the stolen set of speaker's switched on the radio and turned up the volume.
"-And so what happened to the bird then?"

"It just flew off out of the stadium. But you know what was really strange?"

"Something more than breathing blue sparks?"

"No, Our teacher, Irae, he wanted to know about it and ran off to find it."

"Ha-ha, well what song do you want?... Selskia?" Bethany switched stations.

Irae grinned manically and shrugged his shoulder in Anya's grasp "See; solves everything. Now I'll just have to hold everyone off for the next 72 hours or so. Now would you mind? My third rib is fractured."

Anya plopped him down and rolled her eyes "As you've told us many times, 'toughen up princess '. This doesn't solve anything."

Irae checked his watch. "Actually, I estimate it's about 74 seconds before someone in the staff-room locates us and sends up our location to the rest of the teachers... or at least whoever on duty likes."

"Seventy four?" Maya asked, curious, despite herself.

Irae checked his watch again. "More like thirt- fifteen. Now." He moved over to the fold-box and rummaged inside.

"mix… mix…. Mix?" He murmured absentmindedly, like the litany people mutter when searching for matches or their house-key's.

The others watched as he first leaned over the edge of the box, peering in, before inserting his torso and then entire body inside.
Ibis nudged the box curiously "I wonder what would happen if I closed it while he was still inside?"

When Irae's voice floated up from within, it had the ghost of an echo. "Don't even think about it. Although it's not bad in here, I wouldn't want to get stuck, the reception is terrible…." Irae's voice became clearer as he reemerged and climbed over the edge of the box.

"Found it. Never thought I'd use this stuff…. Well, not unless my life was in danger. You may want to stand back a little- I'll either, be a little shakey or I might turn into a monitor lizard; Or something else totally unexpected. Like explosion."

He uncorked a wide glass jam-jar, with the cork being kept in place by string and cloth.

He rubbed the side Where condensation was beginning to appear and rainbow colours shifted as though the glass held the inside of a prism, created using luminescent ink.

"Class. Observe, the Cork. It would corrode metal… And watch closely the effect's it has on people. Probably a once in a lifetime chance, depending on whether I stored this right or not."

There was the sound of running footsteps just on the edge of hearing and getting louder by the moment. Irae held up the jar as if conducting a toast "Skoal." He murmured and began gulping down the contents. Two teachers appeared at the end of the alleyway.

Irae gulped down the dregs at the bottom of the container and gagged, spraying the sour residue left by the drink as he entered a fit of coughing. In between drawing breath, he tossed the Jar to Maya "Here. Present." Irae gasped.

Maya turned the jar around and traced the label with her finger. " Irae's party mix?" She murmured. Looking back up, Irae had straightened out and begun to adjust his collar.

A teacher came into view, running into the courtyard, arms raised with a wickedly sharp katana; wreathed in green fire, held high above his head.

So fast that even Bethany missed it, Irae pulled out his gun, set the freeze to spray, fired, froze the man in his tracks and delivered a spinning kick to the face.

The human popsicle spun round several times to end up lying flat on his side like a flash-frozen break-dancer.
"Before any of you girls ask, He's only covered in frost. Not frozen all the way through."

Ibis laughed "You're such a softie at heart professor."

Irae blurred, disappearing down the alleyway to retrieve the second man.

There was a meaty thwack from the end of the alleyway and the other man came flying into view on a flat trajectory; stopping only when he hit the wall on the far-side with a noise that made everyone present wince. Except Irae of course; he blurred back into view next to the interloper.

"Yield." Irae stated in a gravelly voice.

The teacher put his hands up and then grinned "Arcanus arachnus Arghfuuph-" His incantation was cut short by a blow to the stomach, delivered by Irae with the butte of his weapon.

The man arced through the air to land next to his fellow coughing and retching.

"You've both lost. You know the rules. Twice out means you have to give up, or else I'm allowed to kill you."
Irae widened his eyes and gave a wolfish smile, eyes unsettlingly wide
"Perhaps, you want me to tear out your hearts and make a puree from your livers and jelly from the very marrow of your bones!"

The Teacher looked at Irae and decided that it wasn't worth testing him, he went, dragging his college with him.

"Pa-thetic." Irae chuckled. Anya touched him on the shoulder and almost had her arm-dislocated as Irae spun round and pulled his gun on her.

"Don't do that, while I'm like this." Irae let Anya go just as quickly.

"What did you drink?" Anya asked, rubbing her wrist.

Irae looked enraged for a moment and then sighed and sat on the edge of the fold-box.

"It's complicated; let us just say a side effect is that I'll probably bedbound for quite a while after this and right now I'm on a hair trigger." Irae's head jolted up. "I hear something."

"coolant leak?" Anya commented facetiously.

"No. It sounds more like a man and a women, possibly middle aged, currently stuck in dead end educational jobs while doing nightly sorties of the magical kind."

Ibis shrugged in mock exasperation "You just described practically every teacher here."

Bethany giggled "Someone got bird-burned."

"Shut up." Irae looked round warily. His fingers danced, spider-like over his ammunition belt and selected a stone cartridge. Because the hexi-gun wasn't in maginum mode, he flicked the mostly empty ice cylinder out and inserted the next one in less than a second without opening the breech.
Versatile firearm reloaded, he felt ready to face whatever the staff members brought on.

Purple energy lanced out at Irae from one of the building's windows.

"Come and face me or else!" His eyes saw a glint of light off a cylindrical object.

His eyes narrowed and he began to mutter "Access Account: Irae Ignotus Solem; Spirits, accept my credit that I may use your spell –'Capax Infiniti, Carpe seaculi!' "

The final word emerged from his mouth the instant his mind registered the flash from the window. The bullet had stopped short less than three inches from his face.

The entire world had stopped moving. Except for Irae. Who was paying around a hundred credits a minute for the unscheduled time-stop.

He was never one to waste money and swarmed up the stream of bullets, using the frozen slugs as a staircase.

He reached the top and found Kevin Lancelin holding the sub-machine gun.

"That wasn't very nice." Irae commented. "Seaculi In."

The world returned to the moment it left off. Except that Irae was no longer standing in the path of the stream of bullets.

"You tried to kill me before I'd knocked you down twice." Irae commented, not giving the teacher the chance to even move before he Expertly encased the man in bonds of stone.

The air shifted behind him. Diane Marle's staff-blade whistled through where his head had been. Irae flipped backwards and backpedaled to the end of the corridor to size her up.

She was wearing a dress-suit in olive drab; which somewhat clashed with the gauntlets crackling with dark-purple energy. Irae fired in a circle as she aimed the diamond cut crystal of the bladed-war staff at him.

The barrier of stone exploded outwards with wisps of purple fire licking at the walls. Irae was knocked backwards, righted himself and aimed in a single moment.

"Diane. Die." Irae cocked the gun and held down the trigger. The barrel began to pressurize even as Marled primed another blast of her own.

She didn't make it. Irae released the hammer to send the stone essence shooting down the corridor, expanding and solidifying every meter of the way. Marle thrust her staff forward to meet with the stalactite; the purple energies that Emanated from it grasping the shooting stone.

Marles world exploded and she was sent to crumple into a heap at the end of the corridor.

Propping herself up on her staff, she saw to her horror that the focusing crystal had shattered.

Growling from deep in her throat she clapped her wrists together "Ignis... flamma Flagro Alabaster RUBRICANS!"

She screamed the last word and sprinted down the corridor towards Irae, ready to grab and crisp him to a cinder. He blurred, moving far faster than she could see, he slid through her legs, rolled, leaped and bounced off the wall and ceiling behind her to deliver a heavy blow with the barrel of his weapon.

The hit caught her under her chin and sent her through a window and hurtling out into space. Time stopped as she craned her head forward to see that Irae had her perfectly in his sights.

Then motion returned and the wind whistled past her ears until it was cut short by the sickening crack-
To say everything went dark for Marle would be inaccurate to describe what she saw while in her comatose state, however it was what she would tell the others over coffee back in the staff-room.

She blinked as light appeared around a man's silhouette in her vision. Briefly she recalled her last moments and wondered if this was the start of some sort of afterlife.

"Ah. You have awoken. I told you guys that I knew what I was doing with the revival ravioli."

Struggling onto her elbows Marle looked around. She was surrounded by Irae and his cohort, who were in turn surrounded by the bodies of quite a number of lesser staff-members; either bound in vines, stone, ice, or sticky black ropes of darkness.

"What?"

Irae walked over and sat, hunched with his hands dangling between his knees on the edge of the fold box. "Happened here? Well, the radio message you heard wasn't run over in the university district, so I only had to deal with the younger teachers. Since they all have gone against me for two rounds, none are about to start trouble soon. Since I'll be within my rights to take their lives."

Maya nodded to Marle "Sorry, you were the only one seriously injured…. And I mean seriously injured….. It was very… ehmm. Messy." The somewhat timid archer shuddered at the thought.

Irae pulled out the silver pocket-watch he had received for beating the record for clearing the haunted-house maze* and flipped it shut after a moments glance.

*see my time ticker tales.

"My party-mix will wear off in ten minutes. After that I'll be nearly dead. Fun."
Marle looked concerned "Party-Mix? You aren't doping are you, that sounds like something from the berserkers song."

Bethany looked at Irae suspiciously "That doesn't sound like your average cook-book. What is it?"

Irae straightened up and coughed. "I believe the first lines go like this:
Take Six silver leaves from serene selene.
Fetch nine alligator teeth, fresh from the nile
Take three quart's of tears from the crocodile
Fisk four fine fowl for their golden eggs.
Fish-scales a plenty, a-sorted but especially breen. –" He paused and checked to make sur he still had his audiences attention before continuing in his most professor-ish manner.

It has plenty of other verses about killing your enemies and drinking their blood and setting fire to their villages, poisoning wells and suchlike. But the most important part is that the song contains the recipe's for some interesting concoctions; such as bellax cassus panis. War song bread. For my first degree in cookery I had to synthesize an original brew based off the principles in the original song."

Marle stood up. "And I know that the original recipes had the disadvantage that they caused the user to experience mindless bloodlust after they were expended." She walked over to Irae.

"How long?" Irae shook his head, smiling. "I fixed that. But It's gonna cost me. And I have to Pay in pain and mental anguish."

Marle didn't understand and said as such "Well, at the end I'll- Woah!" Irae kicked Marled aside as a new challenger approached, having hurled two throwing knives at where the pair had been.

"Oh Come on! This really… really Bites!" Irae clutched at his stomach as a masked ninja walked forward, twirling his swords.
Dammit, why did Tak and harlequin have to choose today to go to the beach?

Irae wondered as the masked man bared down on him. Shakily Irae pushed himself up and blurred. The man's sword whistled out and Irae had to stop short to prevent his speed from slicing himself in two.

One blade whistled down at Irae's head and was blocked with his gun. The mask grinned maliciously as the sword wrapped itself around the barrel like the rope of a very sharp whip.

The second sword swung in at Irae's unprotected side. He waited for it to bite through flesh and bone. But it didn't , for at that moment Ibis grabbed the blade with her special glove, catching it before it could hit Irae.

"Umm, Sorry!" There was a twang, a whistling sound and an arrow protruded from the black-clad man's shoulder.
He pulled back, slicing Ibis's glove and hand while tugging Irae's gun from his grip.

The gun clattered to the ground as the Ninja reassessed the circumstances. A second arrow from Maya was batted aside from mid-air with supernatural reflexes.

The figure battered his swords against the ground, making the earth around them turn liquid and flow up to cover the blades.
At that moment Irae ran out of juice, he stumbled forward clutching his stomach. The ninja, his swords now stone sledgehammer's bore down on him.

Maya looked at her bow and then at the man "I… I don't want to kill anyone. But-" She pulled eight arrows from her quiver and nocked them all to the string. "Stop!" She yelled at the advancing man. He appeared to ignore her.

Purple fire lashed out at him, which he blocked and then responded to by flinging the stone covering of the sword straight at Marle, who was propelled backwards to collide with Anya and Bethany.

Maya loosed all eight arrows. He swung his now naked sword, slicing three of the arrows (which still hit him afterworlds) and jerking back at the impact of the other five. He roared inhumanely, fire bursting up from the eye sockets of the mask.

" Sorry. But that only makes him more angry you know. Sorry." Maya whirled to find a boy in a red cloak and hood, with a long sheer white linen shirt and shorts leaning on a staff almost as tall as he was.

"Who? Wait you're that boy from the letter; Epsilon!" The boy closed his eyes and smiled at her.

"It seems my reputation has preceded me. Uh-" The second stone hammer blurred past his ear.

"Whew, close one." Epsilon commented as the man advanced.

Maya looked at him " You have some trump to play, then do it now, please!"

Epsilon blinked at her a moment before understanding dawned. "Oh, Sorry, I'll dispatch this fellow." He turned as the man whirled both swords and brought them down in a sweeping arc at his head. Epsilon lifted his staff ever so slightly and tapped it on the ground.

The man's swords slipped from his hands and flew forward to embed themselves in the wall behind the boy.

The ninja grabbed a body that was on hand and moved to use it as a club, but before he could swing, Epsilon had twirled his staff and struck him under the chin with its curved head.

It made a disappointing 'bonk'. The mask grinned and then as though the blow had waited several seconds to take effect, was propelled backwards to embed himself in the wall on the other side of the court, head first.

Kami-kame came over to Maya and leaned on her shoulder while looking smug. "I found that little fellow wandering around the building. Figured you might want some help."

Over on the other side, epsilon stood behind the ninjas behind, waving his staff as though it was a baseball bat. "Haaa-" Lightning crackled around the end and the air began to smell of burning ozone. "Strike!" He whacked the ninjas rear which was propelled through the wall in a cloud of dust and smoke.

Epsilon coughed, cutely. "That went… well I guess. Thought they'd be something-Uwah!" He jumped backwards clumsily as a huge gout of flame emerged from the hole, slicing through the smoke.

From within the building the ninja emerged, his suit crushed and mangled, moving awkwardly.

It screamed piercingly, inhumanely and flames burst through the tears and openings in the outfit until; it burst releasing the flame elemental within it. The thing was vaguely humanoid, with its incandescent torso attached to a whirlwind of fire in the place of legs.

More worryingly it was now about thirty feet tall and sending out a heat-wave that made it almost impossible for the people on the court to breathe.

It laughed boomingly. Making a grab for Epsilon and almost toasting one of the immobilized teachers. Epsilon backed up. The air around him seemed to darken. Kami-kame shielded her eyes and quietly cursed all master magicians. "Callega! connection connexio consolido colligo!"
Ribbons of darkness whipped from the air to bind the creatures hands and tether it in place.

Epsilon began, almost whispering the first part of his incantation before reaching a full bass shout with force enough to whip the winds around him and blow back the hair of the few still conscious and standing observers.

"Bacillum auxilium Converto: exsilio falx, EN! Barathrum-Antesolem Exanimus Divum !" Epsilon held his staff high in the air above his head. Above Storm-clouds began to gather.

The center of the circular crook of epsilons staff, glowed.

Lightning from several clouds lanced down to strike there. The ball grew and flashed out sideways, solidifying into sable metal from its alabaster brilliance and forming the curved blade of a scythe burning with dark energies.

Epsilon leapt up as the scythe continued to grow, absorbing more and more lightning from the clouds that continued to strike; in a cacophony of earsplitting booms.

"Nothing more than a candle in the wind, you over-grown match-head! Bite the dust!" Epsilon swung the now gigantic blade hanging from his staff, the darkness slashing through the otherwise insubstantial form of the fiery entity.

The thing screamed and tried to jerk away, but was bound by its bonds as Epsilon slashed again and again, each time wounding it until with a final vertical slash that cleaved it clean in two down the center, the creature could regenerate no longer and dissolved into fine grey ash.

Epsilon landed, appeared to think for a moment and then poked the dust with the end of his staff. "You just got burned!" He quipped before breaking into a fit of giggles. It was late evening, but the sudden thunderstorm was bound to attract attention.

In the background, Ibis had torn a strip off someone's shirt and tied a tourniquet around her wounded hand.
Epsilon didn't really move.

He just continued to stand there, until moments later a bright yellow butterfly, shaken by the local weather conditions, flew past his nose.

"Butterfly!" he squealed and skittered after it, leaping up and trying to catch it in his hands.

Kami-kame and Maya brushed ash off themselves. "What… the hell just happened?" Maya asked Zansen.

"I… I don't know. But it might not be a good idea to stick around." She looked over at epsilon who was standing very still now. as the butterfly he'd been chasing had chosen to alight on his nose.

"Pretty!" he clapped his small hands and smiled happily as the butterfly, fluttered its wings and flew off.
"Epsilon." The boy looked around with an expression of extreme seriousness on his soft features.

"Yes? Miss Kami-kame? Is something wrong?"

"Uh, after your display, we may want to vacate this vicinity immediately."

"Oh right, we'd better go… Let's take the fold-box!" Epsilon picked up what Irae had fished out and tapped the butte of his staff on the ground.

"Dextra citivolus Citto!" Anya, Ibis, Kami-Kame, Bethany Maya and Irae were all picked up and thrown into the box one by one by gigantic hands made from wind.

Epsilon hopped in after them and closed the lid from the inside.

"There's a really neat trick you can do with fold-boxes." Epsilon said in the manner of an elementary schooler at show and tell. He whispered a few words and poked the lid up with his staff and pointing it out of the side of the box.

To selskia who'd just seen a box drop into the room from apparently nowhere, the appearance of a curved staff-head did nothing to reassure her. Particularly not when it was rotated round like some sort of bizarre periscope.

Epsilon burst from the box and threw a palm-full of dust in her face. "Surprise. You were just daydreaming again and you'd better not tell anyone, otherwise they'd think you're strange!"

Epsilon dragged the box over the tiled floor and walked backwards into the space beyond.

"Huh… Oh snap. I forgot to carry the one in my temporal coordinate calculation, I was out by three meters above ground level. Hence I am one level below Irae's kitchen."
Is what he would have said in his absentminded way had he not walked into female high-school dormitory bathroom during the evening.

To his credit, it took him less than 0.6 of a second to go from staring to continuing to drag the trunk across the room. The chatter of the evening as this strangely dressed, white haired boy dragged the unfolded fold-box along by the strap.

The sound of the box scraping on the floor was the only noise in the room as he progressed around the edge of the baths with everyone staring and backwards out of the double-doors on the side of the large room.

It took a moment for anyone to speak, the event was one of those things in life that just leaves you wondering if it was just you hallucinating or if you should actually react in some way.

"Who." Annabelle said loudly, breaking the silence. "The hell was that, and what was he doing coming out of the changing rooms with a box?"
The chatter resumed as a number of people began to speculate and many more donned towels and rushed to the doors to see if the interloper was still outside.

He was, but now surrounded by Ibis, Anya, Bethany, Zansen and Maya.

"Who is this and what the hell was he doing in the changing rooms?" Sakura at the head of the group asked, drumming her fingers on the wall erratically.

Anya thought fast. "This little fellow is Epsilon, a friend of Irae's and he was getting changed, because he doesn't have a room yet. Which is why he's still carting that box around."

Ruffled feathers of the various Irate and curious bathers began to settle "So the little guy's name is Epsilon?" Sakura smiled.
It was hard not to; Epsilon was so adorable that if you left him alone in a forest, you'd expect at any moment wide eyed deer and photogenic woodland critters to surround him and do a musical number.

She leaned down and ruffled his alabaster hair. "Are you an albino little guy? That's pretty cool." Epsilon looked down, blushing "Not, really, sorry, I'm just like this. See?" He looked up, widening his eyes to their fullest "My eyes are blue.. If, If I was an albino they'd be pink. I just have white hair. Sorry!"

He seemed to cringe back as if expecting some sort of reprimand. Instead he was forcibly hugged.

"Cute! How long do we have him around for?" She asked Anya who shrugged "Family… troubles, according to Irae, he's here unofficially until his folks have settled things. No idea how long that will be."

Sakura swallowed the fabrication whole, as did the rest of the group behind her; assuming as Anya had intended, that Epsilons parents were in some kind of dispute that shouldn't be discussed around him. "How old is he?" asked Annabelle.

Epsilon puffed out his chest "I'm eight, nine months and three day's old!

"Hang on…" Hanjione Piped up from somewhere in the back "You were born on the thirty first of march in a leap year?"

Epsilons answer started off bubbly and cheerful but descended into a thoughtful mumble. "Yep!.... Which I guess… technically makes me… two and… and a bit."

"Two and approximately two tenths." Honjione corrected.

Ibis looked over the group. "Guys, I think that we should go find a room for Epsilon… You can join us if you want, but please get dressed first." The gaggle that had exited the bathroom, reentered it as quick as they had left, to disseminate the information to the rest of the local population.

While they'd been gone the rumor mill had already churned out a number of theorems about the interloper; from him being Irae in disguise, to a rouge teleporter from outer space, to a runaway from an elementary school rendition of little red riding hood, to an estranged prince who was currently an international fugitive from his evil step-uncles assassins in the usurpers attempt to cement his unlawful claim on the boy's throne.

Funnily enough one person did suggest that the box was a multi-dimensional portal and that Epsilon was in fact a magician of considerable power in cahoots with Irae, but nobody listened to them.

With the update from the group that had swarmed outside however, the room turned to a far different topic; who was going to get to keep him.

As a cute little kid there was likely much entertainment value to be had from him, making Epsilon the dorm equivalent of a valuable commodity or unique room decoration.

No-one had even thought about bickering over Irae, apart from anything else, he seemed very… spiky. He was as prickly as a porcupine with a pencil-sharpener and on occasion as touchy as a mother bear. In contrast you had the bright and bubbly Epsilon who was ironically the more potentially dangerous or destructive of the pair.

There was also another unspoken and unconscious realization; if the little boy had been able to stand Irae's company long enough to become good friends with him, likely as not he wasn't going to be like a normal kid. They sub-consciously rationalized that if the boy had survived Irae, he'd be probably wouldn't be any trouble to keep and therefore was of net benefit to any room that netted him.

Meanwhile Epsilon himself was with Irae and the hard-won prize bird In Bethany's room.

Bethany found herself strangely irritated with the new-comer as he had no apparent pockets to pick. In lieu of conversation she asked how he'd gotten to the school quite so fast.

"Dream-walking. It was one of the anomalies left in this-" He held up necklace with a star-shaped piece of amber on a thin golden brown chain.
"Try as we might, my family couldn't get their hands on an unassigned Personartifaction anomaly, although we've been at the top of the waiting list for half a century; when somebody who has one and no living relatives kicks the bucket, we get to take the anomaly from them."

This puzzled Bethany "Why would you need them to die first?"

"Didn't Irae explain?" Epsilon seemed surprised. "Anomalies are for life and beyond, hence why there are so many laws regarding them.
For instance, newly discovered anomalies like this one here must be given an activation sequence which conforms to the standard given by the anomaly regulation board; because once you set it, no matter what it is, it sticks. Even after you're dead."

Bethany was curious "What exactly do you mean by activation sequence?"

"Well." Epsilon began, sitting on the bed and sketching in the air with his ring-finger.

"You see the anomaly we have here requires physical contact to activate. However it also needs another condition to stop it from activating on every person you meet. Second it won't work for the same pair twice. Different people with the same anomaly can produce different results, but nil for the same people with the same anomaly at different times. It's easier to demonstrate which we'll do when Irae wakes up.

Maya, Zan-sen, Anya and Ibis walked into the room. Ibis was speaking "You know it's not as if these things grow on tree's you know" "You said that twice already."

Ibis shrugged, unable to let go of the issue "He sliced through solid chainmail… I don't mind the hand, it's healed alright, but, I'll miss my glove…. No more one-handed descents for me."

Anya sat on-top of the closed fold-box. "You could make another one."

Ibis shook her hear emphatically and leaned against the wall, head hung low.

"Just… Wouldn't be the same." Something hit her on the head, very softly. It was Epsilons staff.

"Miss road runner, with this anomaly would you like me to make you something first to replace what you lost?" Epsilon cocked his head sideway's, which with his hood, made him look like a curious robin.

Ibis looked somewhat surprised "You can do that?" "Mmmhm!" the little boy nodded vigorously "I just wish he'd wake up already."

Maya leaned down near Irae "Guy's, you have tried asking him, haven't you? Irae, you have to wake up, please."

"Drat. Did we lose the bird." The results were immediate as Irae opened his eyes, blinked and then tried to flip to his feet, being hindered by the bed-sheets, mattress and the fact he was on the bottom bunk of a bunk bed. The latter almost sending him back into unconsciousness.

He shook himself and his eyes focused. "Pen-pal! Epsilon, you're here!"

The smaller boy let go of his staff and leaped across the bed to hug Irae "Hiya Irae, I came in just a while ago and saved the day!" the happy moment lingered on, Irae initially unsure of how to react, before relaxing and accepting the inevitable.

Irae looked both happy and confused as Epsilon drew back, before understanding dawned "You Dream-walked! That's why you said you were going to sleep!" "Uh-huh!"

Irae looked over at his students, bursting with curiosity. "I'm drained, is there any chance some of you could go to the second fridge in the kitchen and heat up some solid-spaghetti. Running on empty here." Zan-sen shrugged and left the room.

The remaining girls clustered closer. "Will you take the anomaly now?" Maya asked, wide-eyed. "Yep" Irae nodded "It's pretty un-impressive, but I had to wait for Epsilon; seeing as he'd have done the same for me." Epsilon smiled a toothy, child-like grin, which suited him for obvious reasons.

Irae absentmindedly reached over to ruffle epsilons hair "It's more than sentimental though; we're planning to try something new or something old, not sure if anyone's bothered to record whether or not this has been done before." Epsilon bounced on the bed.

"Let's go, Irae onii-san!" Irae smiled benevolently. "Right, do let's." He reached out and took Epsilons hand in his own, then both boy's reached for the cage.

In synch as any practiced precision maneuver, the door was opened and the moment the bird peaked its head out, the boys grabbed at it simultaneously, placing their fingers below the beak and their thumbs at the base of its spine.

From all around came a deep thrumming adding an uncanny echo to the boys words as they chanted at an ever increasing pace pitch and volume;
"exsilio, exsisto, existo, exsisto, exsisto, evalesco, fio, fieri, factus Imbou foedus!
coniunctis viribus, clavis aurea expergefacio En Vi Complexio!"

The final Word's came at a crescendo of echoing sound and dancing shadows.
Irae and Epsilon were thrown backwards.

"Ow… I didn't expect a home-brew binding to have quite so much… kick." Irae rubbed the back of his head. Epsilon moaned on the sheets "Did someone get the number of that griffon?".

Anya placed one hand on her hip and held the other out palm up with a wry smile

" 'Pretty unimpressive' huh? I don't know what comes as amazing but I'm glad I won't be around to see it."
Irae grimaced "You don't actually need a lot of ceremony to bind an anomaly to you, it's just that, we needed to be certain that it would be evenly anchored." He slumped down, looking very tired.

Ibis snapped her fingers "I get it! You split it, so that you'd each be able to use the same ability!" Epsilon bounced up "Bingo! Miss road-runner is correct! And she receives today's top prize, a Personartifaction from yours truly!" He bounced off the bed and vigorously shook Ibis's hand, jumped up, kissed her on the cheek and back-flipped in the confined space, coming out of the flip in a mid-air star-jump spread.

Light radiated from him and motes of brilliance swarmed to envelop Ibis "nosce te ipsum, nomen est omen, dictum meum pactum Hah- A-ta-ra-ka-la!" The last syllable echoed for a moment before Epsilon fell from the air, apparently unconscious.

Irae rolled his eyes "Hyperactive, much. Girl's, before asking if everyone can have one, observe, he's going to be out of action for at least another three hours, if not twelve. Most masters only do this after a good-night's sleep and a solid meal. Plus, he needs to cut down on the gratuitous special effects. A handshake would have worked just as well. Correction, did work just as well; Epsilon just added the words and pretty lights because he felt they were appropriate."

Epsilon appeared to stir and held up an arm, fore-finger extended while lying face down "I regret nothing! morituri nolumus mori!"

"We who are about to die don't want to." Irae translated.

Maya prodded him. "What should we do? Didn't it work? Wh at did he say?"
Ibis spoke, her voice tinged with awe and disbelief "It worked alright! What the hell are these?"

Her hands and feet were covered with oversized cat-paw gloves.

Irae leaned forward "They reflect your personality, you should know what to do."

Ibis appeared to think for a moment. She took off the gloves and fiddled with something within. "Ah, there's a label. 'Geko-gloves. For those who need sticky fingers more than anything."

She examined the boots in the same way " 'Cat feet' for when you need a happy landing."

Ibis was happy be slightly crestfallen "Irae, why didn't I get something like a your Hexi-gun?"

Irae shrugged noncommittally:
"It's not just your personality, it's the giver's. I got mine from a gunsmith, among other things. You got yours from an incredibly powerful mage who has the mind and the body of a child. What did you expect?
Anyway, few things you should know; artifacts like this are practically indestructible once created.
Plus, if they aren't being held by another person, with practice, you can summon them to yourself.
How else do you think I can keep something as large as my alchemy gun at my lower back when I'm sitting down all-day. It's really on a stand in the fold-box when I'm at rest."

Maya looked surprised "Really? How about right now?" Irae opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again and held up one hand, ring finger extended "I…I don't know. Did anyone think to take it back when the ninja fellow-"

"He turned out to be an efreet, Fire elemental type person." Interjected Zan-sen as she entered holding a plate of slightly steaming and highly fluorescent spaghetti.

"What the Hell do you put in your cooking Irae?" Bethany exclaimed "That stuff looks like some kind of gambling den art-deco piece."
Irae smiled wearily "Explain later…." Kami-kame handed over the dish to Irae who attacked it wolfing it down and dabbing at his chin with a hanker-chief after a couple of mouthfuls.

"I… Love… Magic!" Irae sighed, his white skin now almost luminous. "Thanks, for everything Kami-kame, the spaghetti and fetching Epsilon."
"How did you?" "Know? You were here when I woke up, as was Epsilon, who's the only one who'd have been willing to pull me out of the sticky situation we were in back there without taking the bird for themselves. Plus, you just told me."

"Oh… So I did." Zansen shrugged and spoke bitterly "You don't need to explain in such detail. Just say Elementary Watson and leave it at that the next time you play detective." She walked out of the room swiftly.

"Did I just do something wrong? Anya? Huh…" Anya had sauntered out the door, followed by Ibis and Maya who carried the unconscious Epsilon in her arms.

"What the hell? Why did they all just leave like that?" Irae looked at Bethany who was lounging against the repaired wall of her room.
"It's my room, I don't need to storm off. Then again, I probably actually would have zoinked the bird given the chance…. Speaking of which."

She closed the door of the cage as the recovering bird bobbed its head and chirped blearily.

"I expect someone's lost him, Its highly unlikely that he's native to this area."

"Not my job Professor." She placed the cage on his bed. "Heal up soon."

She commented before stalking out of the room.

Irae picked up the cage and looked at its occupant, who cocked its head sideways.

"Why do thing's always have to turn on me. Hm?" "Don't ask me, boss, I'm not even poultry."



This is more a cliff-handstand than hanger.

Feel free to speculate whilst I am engaged with Exterminating enraged Examinodocuses.
Normally a peaceful paper eater, they have the ability to ruin your future if not professionally dispatched.